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Authors: Deborah R Stigall

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Awakening Her Soul to Destiny
MacKay [2]
Deborah R Stigall
Lulu (2005)

Kaitla Danaan learned long ago not to trust anyone or anything other then her gut instincts. A series of foster homes had ingrained that survival skill at an early age. Yet here she was...in yet another strange assignment found by her eccentric agent.She's got to remember those dollar signs as the man quietly approaches her.She's got to ignore those sultry good looks and the air of possesiveness surrounding him.She's got to concentrate on the mural she's painting on the walls of the old Scottish Keep that's deserted.Completely deserted except for the two of them.....

AwakeningHer Soul to Destiny

Deborah Stigall

 

Smashwords Edition

COPYRIGHT 2008 © by DEBORAH R. STIGALL

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved

ISBN 978-1-4357-2966-7

 

Discover other titles by Deborah Stigall at Smashwords.com:

 

Seven Moons Back to the Highlands

Twice Upon a Soul

A Heartbeat Back to the Highlands

 

Prologue

 

Secretly known only by those able to open the unseen doorways, there exist other worlds of strange and wondrous things. Lands existing in different realms and much different from the world which is known as earth. Deep within the British Isles there are many such passageways. Portals to worlds filled with shape-shifters, sorcerers, and faeries. Lands where the conflicts of love and hate are borne out over centuries, sometimes never to be resolved.

The Clas Myrddin realm is just such a place. A mysterious world torn apart and cursed by one cruel man…the sadistic Laird of Clan Rheged. A ruthless man whose only joy is the infliction of pain and suffering. A man who’s twisted manipulation of the ruling council empowers him to torment the land.

The only hope for the survival of the realm is the inhabitants brave enough to challenge the dark ways of Ravon. But in challenging Ravon, they unknowingly trigger a curse upon the realm, plunging it into years of desolation.

Laird Caymber and his sorceress, Etain, saved Ravon’s betrothed from a fate of miserable torment; but in so doing, Caymber fell hopelessly in love with the lady. Caymber’s love saved her from one fate of cruel suffering, but unknowingly doomed her to another ill-fated destiny; and even endangered the life of the realm itself. Not all choices are as simple as they appear and each choice affects which pathway is followed to the final destiny. Each choice can ripple effects across decades…and even across worlds.

But perhaps that’s how the legends are born and passed down through the ages. Ancient tales and mysteries thought to be myths and imaginings are really accounts of wonders past…of events that actually took place. Because to those able to cross the hidden portal and enter the mysterious realms, they know the legends to be true…

 

Chapter I

 


What d’ye mean she’s not in this world? What have ye done with her, Etain!” Laird Caymber roared at the silver-haired woman, slamming his fist on the desk hard enough to rattle the drawers. “I bade ye protect her, not take her to another realm!”


It was the only way, my Laird,” Etain sighed, shaking her head in emphasis. After serving the aging Caymber for 300 years, she had grown used to such tirades and they had ceased to have the desired effect upon her. Etain remained calm, gazing through the open window across the desolate lands of Cuchailard. A cold stale breeze gently lifted Etain’s silvery hair, the strands billowing about her tiny body. Turning from the window, she faced Laird Caymber, knowing that once he calmed down, he would agree with the choices she had made. This wouldn’t be the first time she had patiently waited for his common sense to override his quick temper.

Laird Caymber Danann sat at the massive desk, his fist still clenched where it had landed. He glared at Etain with fierce golden eyes that had forced many an adversary to retreat. He had waited as long as he was willing to wait to finally reclaim his daughter! He might be approaching the ripe old age of 500 years, but he was still Laird to Cuchailard. Surely, the woman could see that the time had come for him to see his daughter returned! It was his fondest wish to see the lass happy and settled before the time came for his spirit to take leave of this realm. The past three decades had been hard on Laird Caymber, aging him far worse then the first few centuries of his life. His once tawny hair was now shocked through with white, framing his regal head in errant tufts. Loosed from its usual bindings, his whitening mane resembled the powerful lions he had often shape-shifted to in his younger days. His once sleek bronze skin was now worn and lined like old leather, the creases deepening around his frowning mouth. His broad shoulders sagged wearily under his heavy velvet coat. It seemed he had waited an eternity to finally see his daughter again. The years since his infant daughter had been whisked away to safety had been cold and lonely. It was time she returned.

Etain returned his baleful glare with one of her own. Her eyes were dark orbs of obsidian, highlighted by a pair of delicate silvery brows. It was unnerving to stare long at Etain. She never seemed to blink and the depths of her glare seemed bottomless. Many in the land of Cuchailard believed Etain had the ability to entomb one’s spirit simply by drowning them with her eyes. A tiny, slight woman, her shimmering hair draped down her back and well past her knees. Yet, Etain’s regal bearing left no doubt that her diminutive size should not be mistaken for a helpless nature. Etain’s heart, however, was quite large and her love for the souls of Cuchailard had resulted in her devoted service to their Laird and those he held dear. The years since she had hidden the babe had been as long and lonely for her as they had for Laird Caymber. It had broken her heart to leave the helpless child alone in a strange world. But it was the only way to save the babe from being destroyed.


Caymber, ye ken if I hadna’ placed Kaitla in another realm, Ravon would not have suffered her to live.” Etain slowly walked around the desk, gently placing a slender pale hand upon Laird Caymber’s weary shoulder. “But the child is safe, now grown to be a woman and strong enough to return. Even Ravon’s own clan would dare not challenge her now. Once we have shown her the ways, there will be none who can harm her.”


Aye, that’s so,” Laird Caymber agreed grudgingly. “ But what of Ravon? He still lives and has sworn it will be Kaitla’s blood that gives him retribution for the dishonor her mother brought upon his name.” Holding his head wearily in his hands, Laird Caymber stared hopelessly across the room; eyes locked in a hypnotic stare, as he remembered the rage of the ruler of Clan Rheged.


Well…. I must admit the Lady Bristna was quite brave in breaking her ties to him,” Etain noted wryly. “She had promised him the rest of her days, swearing her devotion to him alone. But after her treatment in Mosrain and the kindness she found in your home, her oath was verra quickly disregarded.”

Jolted from his memories by Etain’s observation, Laird Caymber frowned at Etain’s words. “It was our destiny to be together!” Caymber retorted hotly, “And after his treatment of her, Bristna in no way dishonored him! She had never loved him, their joining had merely been an agreement ‘tween their families!” He glared angrily at Etain, swallowing hard to control the rage as he remembered the condition of Lady Bristna when he had come upon her in the forest of Mosrain. Caymber’s hand trembled with emotion, as he opened the center drawer of the desk and slowly withdrew a small oval picture. The golden frame encircled the delicate face of his beloved wife. Reddish-gold curls cascaded from the upswept hair, falling across the bare silky shoulders. Auburn tendrils framed the oval face and curled enticingly toward the fragile throat. Eyes the color of amethysts were startling beneath faint reddish brows. Laird Caymber had never seen eyes so deep a purple…and they had touched his very soul the moment he had looked into them. Her smooth white skin was like cream, unmarred except for the spattering of the freckles she so hated, across her tiny upturned nose. Her full pink mouth curled to one side in the mischievous smile he had sternly informed her was not appropriate for the Lady of Cuchailard. Now that she was gone, he would give anything in his power to have her smile that way at him once more. He turned his golden eyes to the tiny woman at his side. No longer glaring angrily, but now misted over with sorrow. Imploring, Caymber pleaded, “Please, Etain….please, just one moment with her. I beg ye.”

With a resigned sigh, Etain took the portrait from Caymber’s trembling hands, facing it toward him. Standing straight with the frame against her torso, Etain closed her eyes, breathing slowly and rhythmically. Laird Caymber watched the picture intently as the miniature Lady Bristna gradually came to life. The violet eyes grew wide and solemn. The tiny mouth opened slightly and the delicate tendrils of hair moved ever gently as though kissed by a pleasant breeze. The image of Lady Bristna placed a precious kiss in her hand and slowly blew it to Laird Caymber. She then smiled her crooked smile and whispered, “I love ye, my own, an’ I wait for ye.”

Restoring the picture to its original state, Etain bent and placed it in its resting-place inside the desk drawer. The portrait was never allowed to sit upon the desk at any time. Laird Caymber could not bear the sight of it very often. He had loved his lady with a fierce burning passion, one that left him aching and tormented when she was unexpectedly torn away from him.


Caymber, ye must hear me now…if ye wish for your daughter to be restored to Cuchailard.” Etain placed a hand under his chin, forcing his eyes to meet hers. “Ye must be strong... for her sake. Lady Bristna’s spirit was torn from this realm long ago and someday your spirits will be reunited. But until then, ye must remember who ye are and all that must be done afore ye go. Kaitla is the child of your blood. Even though Ravon’s not been out of his castle in ages, the curse he placed upon the realm cannot be torn asunder by anyone but Kaitla. For ‘tis she alone who can heal the land. The Auld One’s have foretold it. Even Ravon’s kinsman will lay down their weapons and honor her when they know her for who she truly is…I have watched her closely through the years. There is nay doubt she has been blessed as the Auld One’s promised.”


Then, tell me where she is, and how I may finally see her,” Laird Caymber repeated with resignation. He rose slowly from his chair, moving across the burnished wood floors to the sideboard against the wall. Rose hued glasses stood beside an elegant decanter of bulana. Uncorking the decanter, he instinctively wafted the neck of the bottle beneath his nose, inhaling the intoxicating aroma of the rich ruby liquid with pleasure. Laird Caymber poured but one glass of bulana, not offering a glass to Etain. He knew Etain preferred spiritual inebriation above the physical release found in bulana. The familiar burn of the smooth liquid sliding down his throat steadied his nerves, as he watched Etain expectantly.

Etain returned to the window, gazing once more over Cuchailard. It had been quite beautiful once. Looking out over the dry, cracked land and across bleak, bedraggled trees, it was hard to imagine that just a little over three decades ago, the realm had once been rich, green and vibrant. The gray overcast sky had once been a brilliant azure shimmering over rolling fields of grasses and wildflowers. Even the distant mountains and crags had been draped with soothing greens and velvety browns instead of the sinister black that outlined the skyline now. Ravon’s curse upon the realm had robbed it of its beauty.

The Auld Ones themselves had permitted the curse, afraid of Ravon and what he might do if they denied him anything. “Ravon has been wronged by his promised one,” they had defended. Their fear for Ravon forcing them to ignore the fact that Ravon had beaten and raped his “promised one” after she had mistakenly laughed at him. Ravon would never permit anyone or anything appear to belittle him... not even something as innocent as teasing by a young maiden.

Still suffering from the shock of the attack, Bristna was found stumbling through the woods of Mosrain by Laird Caymber. Enraged by the mistreatment of the lady, Caymber had quickly provided sanctuary to Bristna, healing her body, as well as her soul. Laird Caymber and Bristna soon realized they were destined for each other but Bristna had already given her oath to Ravon. When she refused to return to a life of cruel suffering with Ravon, choosing instead the loving kindness of Caymber’s arms, her oath was considered broken.

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